Big 12 Media Days: Kansas

COACH MANGINO: Well, he certainly had a big 2007. And we would anticipate that he will compete and perform at the same high level. For Todd, the challenge is, is that to be able to manage all this attention that he's received. And I think he's doing a good job of that.

COACH MANGINO: Thank you, Peter.
Today, three players made the trip with me from
Lawrence. We have senior linebacker Mike
Rivera. Mike is a Kansas product. Darrell
Stuckey, who is a safety for us. Darrell is a
Kansas City, Kansas, product. And quarterback
Todd Reesing from Lake Travis, Texas. So all
three of them made the long trip here today from
Lawrence with me.


I'd like to open up by saying I appreciate
the opportunity to be here today to address you.
You know, coming off a pretty good season last
year, expectations are very high for our program in
Lawrence, in the state of Kansas, and around the
country.


And we're extremely excited about that.
We embrace those expectations, because there
was a time when I first arrived here that there were
no expectations for Kansas's football program, and
the fact now that people are taking a look at our
program and seeing that we're competitive and
we're able to compete at a high level here in a
great conference like the Big 12.
We think we're going to have a pretty good
football team again. We have a lot of work to do,
though. We're not really as good as we need to be
today. I'd like to think by the end of August we'll be
pretty good football team.


But we are looking forward to the season
with the same great expectations that our fans
have.

Q. I hope you saved some snappy
adjectives to talk about Todd. Could you just
recap the remarkable season he had last year
and what kind of expectations you have for him
this coming season?


COACH MANGINO: Well, he certainly had
a big 2007. And we would anticipate that he will
compete and perform at the same high level. For
Todd, the challenge is, is that to be able to
manage all this attention that he's received. And I
think he's doing a good job of that.


Everybody in Lawrence, Kansas, wants to
say that they know him and that they pal around
with him and he's their buddy. And he's been
invited to just about everywhere. I think if he
continues to do a good job of managing going from
being a player that was not well known, who was
competing for a position last year at this time, to
being somebody that's highly respected as a
player in our league, that's the key.
And he will. He's a smart young guy. He
understands. He understands relationships with
people, and he's smart enough to realize that a lot
of people give you more credit than you deserve.
And as I told him, you can receive that kind of
criticism, too. You can get more criticism than you
deserve if you don't maintain that balance in your
life. And he's doing a really good job of doing
that.


Q. Mark, obviously you guys had great
success last year. But your schedule
switching, you play Oklahoma, Texas Tech and
Texas this year. The tougher schedule coming
along, do you think your program might be a
little bit better prepared for it after the success
you guys had last season?


COACH MANGINO: Well, we've always
said that we want our program to be able to
compete with the best teams in the league. And
the fact that we are picking up Oklahoma, Texas
and Texas Tech is something that we look forward
to. We want to be able to play against all the best
teams in our league. And be able to beat them.
That's the test for our program. We will
never truly get over the hump, in my eyes -- I don't
know how anybody else sees it -- but in my eyes
until we're able to defeat those teams as well.
We talk about the schedule. Yes, it is
tougher. But let's back up a minute here and think
everybody talked about last year's schedule. And
just stop and think for a minute that Kansas's
football coach has been asked about his 2000
schedule not being tough in a year where they
defeated Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and
Virginia Tech. All that tells me is that we're making
progress, if you're asking me those questions.


Q. Bill Young has moved on, did a
great job for you as defensive coordinator.
You obviously had people in the following,
you've made a transition from within. Talk
about will there be any differences in
philosophy or anything like that on that side of
the football.


COACH MANGINO: There will not be
major differences. But one of the things we've
been able to do as a program is to evolve every
year on offense, defense and in the special teams
area. Yeah, we're at the same basic principles.
But we'll always evolve. You always have to try to
stay one step ahead of the offense, so to speak,
and your offense stay one step ahead of the
defense.


Bill did a tremendous job for us. But the
transition was pretty simple. Clint Bowen behind
the scenes had been a key player in the success
of our defense. Clint was back there coaching the
secondary people and connecting it with the
linebackers, putting blitzes together, coverages.
So Clint's a guy that it's not just like we're
grabbing at somebody. He is well prepared for this
challenge and he'll do a great, great job.


Q. As a coaching staff, what do you do
to get your guys prepared for the kind of
expectations you've been talking about and the
kind of celebrity that is around KU football that
hasn't been there for a long time?


COACH MANGINO: Well, I think it's the
approach we take every day with our players.
From the first day we arrive in Lawrence to now.
We're pretty practical thinkers, and we keep it
pretty simple. And how we deal with our players is
we keep the same routine. We do the same things
every day, whether things are going great, whether
things are not going so well. Because we believe
as players and coaches in what we're doing.
And we keep things even.

You know,
pretty simple. I know you get tired of clichés, and I
would, too, if I were you. But it's true. We take
each day one at a time. We focus on the task at
hand and we keep zeroed in on what we're trying
to accomplish. And all the things around the
program, outside the program, certainly it's going
to have some effect on everybody. We're human.
But we're not going to let that affect the way we
prepare, the way we work, our mind-set. We're not
going to let those kinds of things affect us.


As I say all the time around our program,
and it's been used a lot, but I mean it sincerely, we
just stay at it. Keep after it and keep sawing wood.
Just keep going.


Q. How big a concern is it, or is it a
concern, the situation of the offensive tackle,
obviously losing some great players there and
for us that may not know much about the
players that you have come up behind them?

 

COACH MANGINO: Our situation today
as I sit here is no different than it was a year ago.
Last year we had two returning tackles and no
returning centers or guards that had played
significantly.


This year, it's just reversed. We have
veteran guards in the center, but two unknowns, so
to speak, at tackle. I'm not overly concerned about
it. I think it's the approach we take with these
players that's more important than their actual
ability or experience.


We're going to do things with our offense
that gives those kids a chance to be successful just
like we did a year ago when we had all the young
inside players. Let's be smart. Let's do things that
play to their strengths, and we'll be fine.
So we're not in an unusual position. We
were in this spot a year ago.


Q. Mark, obviously you've got to find a
replacement for Brandon McAnderson. Looks
like Jake and Jocques would be likely
candidates for it. But can you talk about the
battle to fill in for your top rushing threat?
 

COACH MANGINO: Well, once again, it's
sort of just like the offensive line position. A year
ago at this time we didn't know what we were
going to have at running back. We had a
1400-yard rusher graduate the program. And we
really hadn't had anybody to jump up front and
center to take that position. And Brandon
McAnderson became comfortable and really did a
great, great job for us.


Well, we have a few candidates for the
position. We've got Jake Sharp who played well
for us last year. We're hoping we can get some
work out of Angus quickly. Angus is a guy who
has been injured most of his career here and last
year when he was healthy, his transition into being
a full-time player was maybe a little bit slower than
we had anticipated. It took him a while to knock
the rust off, so to speak.


We have other guys in the program that
are talented. Of course, Jocques Crawford we'll
find out when he steps on the field August 1st what
he'll be able to do. We have high expectations for
him. Like any other player that comes from junior
high or high school, he has to prove that he can
play at this level every down. I think he will, but
we'll wait and see.

 

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